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Crop, weather and market based advisory for farmers

Kisan Mitra Advisories are an attempt at effective utilisation of information and communication technologies in order to provide quality and timely support for knowledge extension for farmers.  This will also strengthen the functioning of a pool of community resource persons (A possible knowledge network on alternative appropriate technologies) and rural entrepreneurs who can set up such resource centres.  These resource centres will provide locally appropriate knowledge and sustainable agriculture practices.

The apps developed for various mobile platforms will help grassroot extension workers, community resource persons and farmers to directly access the information and grass roots workers to enhance their knowledge and skills. Among the many tools being developed one of the important one is to provide weather-market based crop advisories.

Current the project is under pilot in Vepada mandal of Vijayanagaram district and the proposal is to provide localised advisory services to the farmers based on the local observations and conditions. The farmers are part of the two farmer producer organisations in in Vepada mandal of Vijayanagaram district. 

Haritha FPO: Sompuram, SKSR Puram, Dabbirajupeta, Jakeru, Singarai, Arigipalem, Boddam, Ramaswamypeta, Mukundapuram, Obulayyapalem, Paturu, KG Pudi,

Vepada Tribal FPO: Saravanipalem, kotayyagaruvu and pathuru

Centre for Sustainable Agriculture (CSA) provides extension support on the ecological agriculture (Organic/Natural farming/Sustainable Agriculture/Non Pesticidal Management), the advisories are based on biotic stress surveillance. The crop situation, pest and disease incidence will be locally monitored and advisories from department of agriculture and agriculture universities would be considered and based on which advisories are provided. Weather data is collected from the local automatic weather station established by CSA and also data from the department of agriculture and Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) and advisories are developed. The market information is collected from the local market yards on a weekly basis and state level prices are collected from AgMarket (Agricultural Marketing Department data) and agricultural university advisories.

  1. Situational analysis: Advisories based on localised situational analysis with an optimal frequency would be very useful for famers to reduce their risk and costs of production and improve their productivities and incomes.  In this project localised situational analysis and developing advisories based on the situation and reaching it out to famers in a timely manner are key processes. For that biotic stresses, abiotic stresses and market situations would be monitored on a weekly basis.
  1. Biotic Stresses Surveillance and advisory: Regular monitoring at the village level to understand the kind of pest and disease build up species wise, number wise and abiotic stresses like drought, advise farmers for necessary action.

Insect Pests 

  • Insect pests are attracted to light, color and smell of pheromones.  Using these characters a pest surveillance system with Light traps, sticky traps and pheromone traps is built at the village level.
  • We follow fixed plot survey methods where different traps (based on the cropping pattern in the region) and the data is compiled to make assessment of the pest/disease situation and advisories are issued at the village level.
  • The traps are based on the insect types. For examples more sucking pests are attracted to light and sticky traps, while borers are attacted to pheromone traps. Any automation of collecting the information will help to improve the prediction.

Plant Diseases

  • Plant disease assessment is based on the survey done in identified fields to assess the disease severity.
    • Incidence and severity: low (<20%), moderate (20-40%), high (40%<)
  • Percentage of infection is calculated based on the following formula
  • Individual farmers can also call on the 1800 120 3244 (toll free) or 08500 98 33 00 for advisory if they identify the problem, or
  • For problem diagnosis take a picture and send to 08500983300 on whatsapp, or
  • Use eKrishi Pestoscope app available on google play store or  to share problems. The advisory would be issued in a day from the experts
  • Abiotic Stresses and advisory

Weather monitoring: The weather parameters – atmospheric temperature, humidity, rainfall, light intensity, through an automatic weather station which is weather proof, solar powered and has cellular connectivity.  Daily update on weather parameters helps to monitor the abiotic stresses like drought, floods, hailstorms etc and make advisories.  This information is also useful to access the  crop insurance etc. Currently localized information is not available.  Farmers will be given advisories based on the local weather and the data will also be used to build long term predictions. An automatic weather station is set up at SKSR Puram and provides data on all weather parameters.

  • Market situation

Market Information is collected from local markets and also AgMarket on a weekly basis.  

  1. Monitoring

The data coming from the field observations weather data, pest and diseases, will be plotted to understand the relationship between the three and crop management practices.

The long term data collection also helps to build predictions in terms of pest attacks, droughts etc and improve the preparedness of the people.

Example of how the data will plotted for monitoring and advisories

Similar mapping of market prices will help to developed localised understanding of market price fluctuations and the trends so that production choices can be modified.

Crop Advisories

Weekly advisories are issued at the cluster level based on the data coming from Weather stations, pest and disease survillience and market situationsis used to develop advisories for crop choices, irrigation and other crop management practices. 

The advisories would be in the form of display at the FPO office (template enclosed) audio and text messages. After the message is sent, a sample of 50 farmers per month would be followed up to know the utility of the advisory and modifications would be done accordingly.

Improving access to entitlements and Services

KisanMitra works to improve the governance of agricultural support services. This takes two pronged approach, one to improve equitable access to the existing support services for all cultivators and two, to improvise, change or bring in new public policy measures which can improve farm based livelihoods.  The public policy measures could be about investments made to promote certain models of agriculture/practices which help farmers, create infrastructure facilities, access to credit, insurance, subsidies etc or  regulations on practices/actions which affect farming like seed quality or land use shift etc
Agriculture based livelihoods are reeling under deep crisis today, a crisis partly driven by ecological risks like unpredictable weather, depletion of water and soil quality, increased incidence of pest and disease, paired with often uninformed choices farmers make in production, all leading to increased risk of crop failures and increased cost of production. Lack of access to various support services offered by government and other agencies, designed to mitigate such risks, only serves to intensify the vulnerability of those dependant on agriculture.
This situation presents the need to set up an integrated system which can make all required, locally relevant information accessible at one place to farmers. This system must be complemented by a centralised support and grievance redressal mechanism which can coordinate with various departments of government to resolve the constraints farmers face in accessing existing support services.  Kisan Mitra is designed to be such a system.
The larger objective of Kisan Mitra is to promote sustainable livelihoods for medium, small and marginal farmers by improving the last mile delivery of the farm support services. It is operated through volunteers, Farmer Collectives, NGOs, Entrepreneurs and Field Staff.

Farmer Service Centres

Farmer service centres (FSCs) at the block level, paired with a centralized support structure. FSCs are envisioned to cater to the needs of farmers by providing proactive and locally relevant extension services as well as being access points to all government sponsored schemes and services. The central support structure will be two-pronged: (i) a help line to provide easy access to information about government services, and a grievance redressal mechanism to strengthen governance. (ii) an information tool to strengthen extension services All of these efforts will converge at the district level, with operations over-seen by the district administration.
Farmers service Centres will be established with a block as the operational area. It will be a one-stop centre for all services, which include:
Extension Services

  • Weather monitoring and updates on daily weather forecasts
  • Monitoring of biotic and abiotic stresses: soil moisture, soil quality, pest and disease, etc.
  • Custom recommendations based on soil health and crop requirements
  • Problem diagnosis on pest and disease, plant growth, etc.
  • Crop Advisories

Financial Services

  • Accessing institutional credit for farmers and farmer collectives
  • Access to crop, livestock and other insurance schemes
  • Subsidies and Schemes

Quality inputs

  • Seeds
  • Biofertilisers and biopesticides
  • Farm tools, equipment and machinery

Custom Hiring Centres

  • for farm machinery
  • Processing facilities
  • skilled labor

Quality Management Systems

  • Third Party Organic Certifications.
  • PGS (Participatory Guarantee System),
  • Good Agricultural Practices (GAP)

Market Access

  • Procurement centre for agri-produce
  • Market Information
  • Market linkages

Support to FPOs

  • Legal compliance
  • Access to credit
  • Capacity building
  • Planning and Management

AgricultureLawPoliticsIndiaExplained: How Changes in Agri-Produce Trade Laws Will Turn Hunger into Profit-Making Business

And yet, it is being tom-tommed as ‘freedom’ for farmers and ‘self-reliance’ for country!

Subodh Varma

07 Jun 2020

Agri-Produce Trade Laws Will Turn Hunger

Silently, and in double quick time, changes in laws related to cultivation, sale, stocking and pricing of agricultural produce – food grain, vegetables, etc. – have been proposed and disposed by the Narendra Modi government. Three ordinances relating to these key dimensions were given Presidential assent late on June 5 night, and they came into force “at once”. These were put on the table only last month by the finance minister as part of the so-called stimulus and cleared by the Cabinet only a couple of days ago.

There has been much jubilation in the mainstream media over these far- reaching policy changes, while most political parties, barring the Left, have been silent. It appears as if the government’s propaganda that these will allow farmers to sell their produce “anywhere” and “get best prices”, and that this will lead to all round prosperity, has been swallowed unquestioningly by most middle class.

As far as the farmers themselves are concerned, virtually all their organisations have opposed these wholesale changes. Cunningly brought in when the COVID-19 pandemic is raging in India and people are fighting for their lives, these changes will decisively hand over agricultural production and trade to big companies and traders, and thus, present an imminent danger to food security in a country that has about 200 million hungry people.

Here is what has happened and what it will lead to:

Changes in Essential Commodities Act (ECA)

This law, passed in 1955, empowered the government to lay limits to the amount of foodgrain stocks traders or companies could keep, as also cap the prices that could be asked for. It is being argued that the law was useful when India faced a foodgrain crisis but now that we have bumper harvests and sufficient production, it is useless if not an obstacle.

So, the new ordinance has inserted a sub-section saying that only in extraordinary circumstances like war, famine, natural calamity etc. can the government “regulate the supply of such foodstuffs, including cereals, pulses, potato, onions, edible oilseeds and oil”, and price caps will be triggered only when prices rise by 100% (for horticultural produce) and 50% for other non-perishable items.

The argument is spurious and patently false. Have a look at the availability of cereals and pulses in the charts below, using data from the government’s own Economic Surveys of different years.

chart 1 agri

The availability of cereals has been up and down, being determined by monsoons, but between 1965 and 2019, the increase is only about 26 grams per person per day, or 6% of the intake. That’s not enough to feel so confident about, because one bad monsoon will bring it down.

For pulses, the situation has considerably worsened, as can be seen from the chart below. Compared with 1965, people are eating nearly 14 grams less pulses per day – that’s a dip of over 22%. Remember that the availability figures are boosted by huge imports in recent years. If that were to stop, availability would plummet further.

Chart 2 agri

So, removal of stock and price restrictions will mean that big traders (or their cartels) can hoard a lot of stock and thus create scarcity, driving up prices. This is not a far-fetched scenario – it has happened repeatedly with onions even when the ECA was in force. Its “de-fanging”, as some media outlets were gleefully describing it, would be a windfall for monopoly traders and companies who speculate on prices. Profit from hunger.

Scrapping APMC Laws

The second ordinance issued on Friday night scraps the whole existing system of selling and buying agri-produce in India. The Agricultural Produce Market Committees (APMCs) are designated areas created by state governments where various agri-produce can be sold by farmers to licensed persons or commission agents. There were 2,477 principal markets and 4,843 sub-market yards throughout the country.

The purpose of this system was to ensure that greedy and powerful traders do not fleece farmers by paying them lower prices. These markets also became nodes for government procurement of foodgrains. Over the years, considerable corruption entered the system, with agents forming cartels to manipulate prices, or taking bribes to favour selected sellers, etc. However, by doing away with this system altogether, the Modi government has thrown the baby out with the bathwater. Now any trader can approach any farmer anywhere in the country and buy the produce, at whatever price they agree upon.

Since 64% of farmers in the country have small and marginal holdings, and thus will have small quantities of produce to sell, they will hardly be in a position to transport the produce over a long distance to a market/traded which offers a better price. In fact, they will be offered a shortcut by traders who will pick up the produce from them, from the farmgate itself, say. This process will see bigger traders with deeper pockets emerge as winners, swallowing up all the small fry. In these monopolistic conditions, they will also dictate prices and other terms.

Note that APMCs come under state government jurisdiction. But the ordinance specifically over-rides the state laws. The agriculture minister, when asked about this, reportedly claimed that agricultural trade was in the Central List of the Constitution and that is why they could bring this ordinance.

This will dovetail well with the changes in the ECA: traders will be able to hold as much stocks as they want. It will also help big agro-processing companies, including foreign behemoths, to freely buy up foodgrain or even perishables, in pursuit of their own interests. For instance, a biscuit or bread producer will buy up wheat stocks at will and stock them up, disregarding any effect this may have on wheat prices, or on availability of wheat, which is a staple in many parts of the country.

Thus, with this ordinance, the whole system of agri-produce trade has been privatised. The ordinance provides for an elaborate system of legal remedies if payments are not made as per terms. But, will the small farmer take on big companies in court cases that will run for years?

Contract Farming

The third ordinance lays down how farmers can enter into agreements with ‘sponsor parties’ to undertake contract farming, that is, of cultivating and providing certain specified produce in certain quantities, at a fixed price. This system is already in practice in scattered parts of the country. On the face of it, it looks like a beneficial system to farmers because of the promise of a fixed return.

But here are some of the faultlines:

a) prices offered may fall in the future as the sponsor party (usually a big company, often involved in agri-processing) will determine prices based on its own interests;

b) companies will push farmers to produce certain kinds of crops, say, potatoes (for chips) or tomatoes (for ketchup) and any such scaling up will affect the foodgrain output of the country, opening the doors to other companies offering to import the foodgrain. In other words, the country’s food security may be jeopardised;

c) the agreement between farmers and companies will be unequal because the latter have far more resources and power. So, dispute resolution or settling of terms will be very unequal and unjust;

d) Share croppers and other tillers of the soil will get thrown out though the ordinance says they shouldn’t be. The economics will motivate land owners to increase eviction.

e) agricultural workers and their wages or other rights have no place in the new dispensation.

In short, this change also shifts the balance against farmers and towards business houses and big traders, including foreign monopolies.

Seen as a package, the three ordinances thus upturn the present system to install a much more business and trader-friendly system. Neither farmers, agricultural workers, nor the common citizens in India (consumers) stands to benefit from these changes. All these changes do is to open the door to increased profits by agri-traders and agri-processing companies, both domestic and foreign.

This decision also fits in with the Modi government’s overall thrust to privatise everything – from public sector enterprises to healthcare, from education to defence, and from natural resources to space programme. All in the name of building a “self-reliant India”!

Farmers Will Grow What Markets Want: What Modi Government’s Agriculture Reforms Will Achieve

by Sivakumar Surampudi  – May 27, 2020, 5:34 pm237SHARES

Wheat farmerWheat farmer

  • The farm sector is destined for stirring changes, in the aftermath of the FM’s recent policy announcements. Here’s a look at how it will impact the ground realities.

Someone once quipped, “We won’t be able to capture the opportunities presented by the twenty-first century food consumer, if Indian agriculture continues to operate with the twentieth century institutions.”

This post explains why I believe that the agri reforms announced by the Central Government recently are far-reaching and transformative.

More importantly, how the reforms have been conceived differently this time, which gives us hope that the reforms will actually make an impact on the ground.

But before I do that, let me explain the origin of these regulations, and what has changed since then, warranting the reforms, so you have the context.

India: 1950s to 1970s

Much of the policy and regulatory framework of India’s food and agricultural economy was built in an era of shortages, and an environment where institutional arrangements were inadequate. So,

  1. Government played an active and direct role to achieve self-sufficiency in food – largely rice and wheat. Public institutions were created to undertake agricultural research, provide extension services to the farmers, produce seed & fertilizer, procure farm produce at minimum support prices, and public distribution of food.
  2. Essential Commodities Act was put in place, to control hoarding and black marketing, and ensure availability of products to consumers at fair prices.
  3. States established Mandis (Market Yards) under Agriculture Produce Market Committee Act, to facilitate competitive price discovery and protect farmers from exploitation by village-level traders.

While all these laws and institutions successfully delivered the desired outcomes, there were some unintended consequences too.

For example, the direct role played by the government created a production-driven supply chain system with a focus on raising yields and no incentive to the farmer in improving quality beyond the basic.

The unpredictability of invoking Essential Commodities Act, hanging like the Sword of Damocles, did not let the industry mature into globally competitive scales.

The APMC Act too did not let the relationship between the farmers and the food processors or retailers evolve into value chain partnerships, because the compulsory auction system kept it transactional.

While the incomes of farmers certainly went up compared to the prior period because of these interventions, they also remained far lower than that of any other source of livelihood.

It’s a telling statistic that 80 per cent of India’s poor are farmers.

The India of 21st Century:

Access to basic staples is not any more a concern for a large majority of Indian consumers.

With their general awareness increasing and income levels also improving, the consumers started looking for more variety in food, as also better quality.

There’s also a preference for processed and packaged food as they offer convenience while buying as well as consumption.

A sizeable segment of today’s consumers is willing to pay higher price for healthy and nutritious food, and is also seeking assurance on safety and hygiene.

These developments offer a great opportunity to diversify farm production to more remunerative crops like vegetables, fruits, nutri-cereals (millets), pulses, and the derived products like milk and meat.

To gain from this opportunity, farmers need access to new knowledge in crop management and efficient linkages to input and output markets.

This means a fundamental transformation of the system from being production-driven supply chains led by government, to demand-responsive value chains anchored by consumer-oriented market players.

Given that many of these crops are more perishable than cereals, this also means new investments in processing, storage and handling infrastructure.

Such systemic transformation, the linkages along the value chain, and the investments in infrastructure are precisely what the institutions and laws of 1950s-70s obstructed.

Hence the hankering from all stakeholders for reforms in agriculture for over two decades.

What will the reforms accomplish?

What we have heard from the announcement of the Finance Minister is the intent.

We have to still walk three more steps, viz. (1) read the fine print of the three laws when they are enacted, (2) understand the alignment of different states and political parties with the announced intent, and (3) see the Rules made by the concerned authorities to operationalise these Acts.

But, knowing what we already know today, I have no doubt that the nation will move forward decisively from here.

  1. The announcement on Essential Commodities Act says that the stock limits will be imposed under very exceptional circumstances like national calamities or famine. And that such stock limit shall not apply to processors and other value chain participants, subject to certain norms. Once this is clearly spelt out in the amended Act, this regulation becomes more predictable, the level of risk on investments in infrastructure gets reduced substantially, leading to improved financial viability, attracting more private investments.
  2. It’s also announced that a new central law will be formulated to offer more choices to farmers in selling their produce, including a framework for e-trading. While the APMC Acts and Mandis will remain, this law will effectively remove their monopoly. The resultant competition will make the Mandis also more efficient. This idea, I believe, is a great workaround and more pragmatic, instead of tweaking the APMC Act, as the Model Acts of 2003 and 2017 attempted without much success. The jurisdiction of APMC will be limited to the mandis, and the food processors or retailers will be free to engage with the farmers outside the mandis, to build stronger and longer term relationships that go beyond the auction transactions.

Such engagement will lead to better alignment of crops and varieties based on consumer trends.

Farmers will grow what the markets want, rather than trying to sell whatever they produced.

It’s in the interest of the processors and retailers to help farmers raise their productivity, manage crops to produce the desired quality, ensure appropriate post-harvest practices to preserve the product integrity, all of which lead to better farm-gate price realisation.

Sort of a reciprocal dependency that’s more sustainable.

The e-marketplaces will also help in delivering personalised crop management advisory to farmers, besides lowering the costs of accessing input or output markets through aggregation.

With reliable supply chains supporting their investments through such engagement, the private sector can focus on value addition through processing and branding to serve the evolving consumer needs.

  1. The announcement of a new framework of enforceable agreements between farmers and processors, retailers, exporters, aggregators etc. to enable pooling of investments and capabilities to increase farm productivity and improve quality, while mitigating the production and price risk for the farmers is another step in the right direction. The word “enforceability” mentioned in the announcement should translate to institutionalising a swifter and inexpensive dispute resolution mechanism in the Act, in the interest of both the parties. I also hope the fine print in the Act or Rules doesn’t lead to a larger bureaucratic oversight and the consequent delays and additional costs that the agricultural value chains can ill-afford.

The ₹100,000 Crore Fund for farmers, announced by the FM towards the post-harvest infrastructure, as well as the ₹10,000 Crore for Micro Food Enterprises, will complement the downstream investments by the private sector and effectively complete the value chain.

For those who argue that no private investments came into Bihar and a couple of other states when they abolished their APMC Acts, and why things would be any different now, the answer lies in the improved viability due to the scale-play allowed under the amended Essential Commodities Act.

Also, the new approach to trade facilitation law will satisfy those who argue that the state governments cannot walk away from their obligation to provide agri marketing infrastructure after APMC reform, because mandis will very much co-exist and compete for their share of volumes from the farmers.

Sivakumar Surampudi is Divisional Chief Executive of the Agri Business Division at ITC.

Scope of Growth in Organic Farming in India

As per industry reports, India organic food market, which currently sized at 6000 crores is anticipated to grow at a CAGR of over 25% during 2016-2021.

The last couple of years have seen a massive growth of demand in the organic food industry, especially in the urban and fast-growing markets of India. The organic food industry in India which is currently in its initial stages of evolution is growing at a rapid rate of 25% – 30% Y-o-Y. High disposable income and increased health awareness are the key factors which have resulted in this augmented demand.
With this scenario the domestic organic food market is projected to touch $1.36 billion mark by 2020.
How different is organic farming from regular farming?
The differences between organic farming methods and conventional farming are the methods used during food production. Organic farming works towards increasing sustainability and biodiversity and needs good soil and air quality. This must then be maintained by using natural growing practices, avoiding harmful chemicals and continued practice of crop rotation along with other natural farming methods.
Organic agriculture is typically more profitable – upto 35% more than conventional farming. It also provides more rural employment opportunities because organic management is more labour intensive than conventional practices. For workers, though, the biggest advantage is that organic decreases their exposure to toxic agrochemicals.
The demand vs supply analysis of organic food brands in India
The organic food market in India is still at a nascent stage wherein we are noticing an increasing demand from end buyers but due to limited availability the supply remains slow. The major problem faced currently is that organic products are priced at a high rate which makes market penetration challenging. The limited availability of organic foods coupled with the fact that majority of sales is concentrated in larger cities shows that supply chains of organic food from farms to domestic consumers are not very well established. There is a lack of knowledge about organic products leading to a low penetration amongst potential customers.
Role of accelerator programs like Agri-Udaan
Agri-Udaan is a brilliant initiative by the Government of India to attract youth from rural India and train them so that they can add value to farmers produce. This indirectly brings more land under organic cultivation. With the Indian Government committed to the goal of doubling farmers income by 2022 several Indian agri-tech start-ups and ecosystem enablers have come forward to help India regain its status of being the “Golden Bird” using technologies such as AI, BIG Data, ML and more.
Upcoming trends which make organic farming a viable business model
There are of technologies being developed like refrigeration system powered by farm waste, AI Based deep tech solution for crop inspection and agricultural products grading, supply chain optimisation platforms, tech platform for rural entrepreneurs for demand led agriculture, a wearable plant phenomics device for pre-detection of pests diseases and deficiencies prior to any physical damage to plant. With such innovations organic farmers can merge nature and human creation to improve efficiency and protect produce.
The trend of organic and healthy eating is catching up again where an increasing number of Indian citizens have chosen a complete chemical free lifestyle and have turned towards eating natural and organic. We are seeing newer organic brands coming up which have traditional processing techniques, and all this is made possible due to the awareness spread by a lot of change makers, NGOs and organic food marketing companies.
As per industry reports, India organic food market, which currently sized at 6000 crores is anticipated to grow at a CAGR of over 25% during 2016-2021. Rising popularity and awareness within the younger generation and millennials is the reason behind the growth. In a country having 1.25 billion citizens, there is immense scope and opportunity for new brands to enter and work mutually for the growth of the industry, thus making it a rewarding opportunity for the investors to enter this space.

Model Agriculture Land Leasing Act 2016

The fear of losing right, title and ownership over one’s own land by leasing out, discourages the land owners even when they are themselves unable to cultivate to lease out their parcels of land. This is the cause behind substantive extent of land remaining fallow. The State Revenue laws provide for right to ownership by proving adverse possession for a certain period as prescribed by the actual tiller. The census 2011 reveals, that the extent of lease in the country is around 6 per cent. In the absence of a legal provision back-stopping such leasing, most of it is oral and therefore does not entitle the lessee to claim the status of a farmer and access various benefits available fro m the government and credit institutions.
It is further known, that a lot of land remains fallow for many do not opt to offer their piece of land on oral lease. It is, therefore, necessary that lease is legally recognised by enacting a suitable law. However, it should explicitly and emphatically protect the interests of the land owner, in supersession of any other provision of law that may be in force.
The Model Land Lease Act, 2016 prepared and approved by the NITI Aayog offers an appropriate template for the states and UTs to draft their own piece of legislations, in consonance with the local requirements and adopt an enabling Act.
Statement of Objects and Reasons
An Act to permit and facilitate leasing of agricultural land, to improve agricultural efficiency and equity, access to land by the landless and semi – landless poor, occupational diversity and for accelerated rural growth and transformation; provide recognition to farmers cultivating agricultural land on lease for enabling them to access loans through credit institutions, insurance, disaster relief and other support services provided by Government, while protecting fully the land rights of the owners; and matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.
Whereas, the prohibitions and restrictions under existing state laws governing agricultural land leasing forced the landowners and lessee cultivators to have informal agreements only for cultivating the land and thereby depriving the lessee cultivators of the benefits which are normally due to them, the existing laws also create insecurity among landowners to lease – out agricultural land which reduces the access to land by the landless poor, small and marginal farmers and others by way of leasing.
Main Features of Act

  1. Legalise land leasing to promote agricultural efficiency, equity and power reduction. This will also help in much needed productivity improvement in agriculture as well as occupational mobility of the people and rapid rural change.
  2. This is very important step for land reforms through which needs of landlord as well as lease holder have been taken care.
  3. Through this act, the landlord can legally lease the land with mutual consent for agriculture and allied activities. In this act, it has been taken care that in any circumstances the leased holders’ claim on land will not be valid.
  4. Lease holder may receive institutional loan, insurance and disaster relief so that he may invest more and more in agriculture.
  5. Allow automatic resumption of land after the agreed lease period without requiring any minimum area of land to be left with the tenant even after termination of tenancy, as laws of some states require.
  6. Incentivise tenants to make investment in land improvement and also entitle them to get back the unused value of investment at the time of termination of tenancy.
  7. In order to resolve the dispute between the landlord and lease holder, the provision of “Special Land Tribunal” has been made in the Civil Court.

To access the complete Act, click here.
Source: Department of Agriculture, Cooperation and Farmers Welfare

2020: Telangana Loan waiver

2020 Telangana loan waiver AGLC_RT148 Download the GO
The Telangana Government has notified guidelines for the implementation of farm loan waiver for all loans between outstanding April 1, 2014, and December 11, 2018, with a cap of 1 lakh for each farmer.
Commercial banks have been asked to prepare a list of beneficiaries with the help of local government employees. The total outgo, estimated at 16,000 crore, will be disbursed in four installments. State government had recently allotted Rs 1,198 crore in its 2020-21 budget for the scheme
However, all loans below 25,000 will be cleared at one go. This will benefit 5.83 lakh farmers.
All crop loans sanctioned or renewed on or after April 1, 2014 and outstanding as on December 11, 2018, are eligible for the waiver.
However, gold loans availed from urban and metropolitan banks or bank branches as crop loans will not be eligible for waiver. Loans availed from the these banks, which also service some rural areas, are eligible for loan waiver.
It will cover short-term production loans and crop loans against gold. Each family will be eligible for a waiver of 1 lakh only, including principal and interest. The amount, however, will not include processing charges, legal charges, insurance premium or inspection charges.
While the loans above Rs 25,000 and upto Rs 1 lakh per farmer’s family requires about Rs 24,738 crore, the State government had earmarked Rs 6,225 crore in the budget under the scheme towards first installment.

Loan Waivers and Bank Credit: Reflections on the Evidence and the Way Forward

Sudha Narayanan and Nirupam Mehrotra
2019 Loan Waivers and Bank Credit
In the past decade, farm loan waivers have become a policy instrument to alleviate the financial distress of farmers. Despite agreement on the theoretical rationale for such debt forgiveness and its deep contextual relevance, many fear that in the long run, loan waivers might vitiate the repayment culture in the farm sector and undermine the financial status of banks. At present, critiques of large-scale loan waivers rest on limited evidence. This article reviews and synthesizes existing research and available data on the implications of loan waivers, especially for the flow of credit to farmers from banks. On most of the issues, such as farmer well-being and repayment culture, there seems to be mixed evidence on the consequences of debt waivers. Credible evidence on macroeconomic implications is limited, mainly on account of methodological challenges. This article concludes that even if loan waivers are an inappropriate strategy to support farm incomes in sustainable ways, the wide-ranging negative impacts on the formal banking sector are perhaps overstated. A more fruitful approach would be to focus on whether loan waivers can be designed to reduce the possible negative consequences for the formal banking system as well as for macroeconomic system. The article identifies three possible instruments—loan insurance products that will help banks cope with the consequences of large-scale defaults. Second, to explore the creation of a distress fund that will cushion state finances, should there be a need for debt waivers. Third, it would be useful to consider the operation of debt relief commissions to have an ongoing process for debt waivers.

Report on policies and action plan for secure and sustainable agriculture
Executive Summary
Despite having achieved household food security, thanks to Green, White and Blue revolutions, the problem of poverty, hunger and malnutrition still persists and the real income of farmer has declined. To reverse this trend, there is an urgency for an introspection of existing technology, development and policy related initiatives and to evolve a new strategy with defined Road Map, to accelerate agricultural growth rate which seemed to have stuck around 3 per cent. Also, accelerating agricultural growth is warranted for achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030. This obviously calls for some bold policy decisions and their effective implementation. Recognizing the above concerns, the Principal Scientific Adviser to the Government of India constituted a committee to review agricultural policies and suggest strategies as well as action plan to achieve faster a secure and sustainable agriculture so as to ensure improved livelihood of smallholder farmers. Besides its five meetings, the committee networked with more than 150 eminent scientists, agricultural experts and key stakeholders from across the country and those of Indian origin residing abroad, organized a few peer review meetings and had individual/virtual consultations. In the process, key existing government policies, programs and schemes related to agriculture were critically reviewed, along with some very promising innovations, which on scaling out, can make greater impact. Accordingly, this report is structured to highlight: (i) role of agriculture in achieving sustainable development goals;
(ii) accelerating agricultural growth for secure and sustainable agriculture; iii) recommendations and proposed reforms, and iv) action plan for scalable innovations.
India is currently at the centre stage globally with regard to achieving SDGs, failing which possibly the UN targets would not be met in view of existing concentration of both poverty and hunger, being the maximum compared to elsewhere. Hence, there is an urgency to adopt some bold policies and to scale out new technologies and innovations to ensure increased production linked to input use efficiency, post-production, value chain, effective partnership with stakeholders, especially the private sector, and the linkages with both national and global markets. Fortunately, the Government’s commitment to meet SDGs and the Paris Agreement for climate change do present unique opportunity for the entire agricultural sector to get aligned for a better tomorrow. Thus, there is an urgency that policy makers accord high priority to agriculture, which still sustains almost half of the Indian population, to
ensure faster agricultural growth to achieve food, nutritional and environmental security for all. This obviously would demand doubling of funds for agricultural research and innovation for development (ARI4D), which still gives the highest returns (more than 10 times) compared to rest of other growth sectors. Also, the enhanced capital investment in non-Green Revolution areas such as eastern and north-eastern regions, especially to improve social progress index (SPI), becomes highly justified to ensure an Evergreen Revolution that is sustainable. Besides SDGs, India’s commitment for doubling farmers’ income is a major policy initiative, which demands specific focus now on increased production with low input cost, sustainable agricultural diversification and efficient post-production management, including value addition, and better options for linking farmers to market. Obviously, these would
demand a paradigm shift in current national agricultural policies to become pro-farmer and to ensure higher agricultural growth for an over all prosperity.
This committee is of the firm view that farmers are currently the most stressed community whose income is not enough to meet their daily needs. Farmers need good land, healthy soils, adequate and good quality water, timely supply of key inputs, technologies that can ensure higher and efficient production, good and timely extension services, easy availability of credit at low interest rate, access to national xxii Report on Policies and Action Plan for a Secure and Sustainable Agriculture and global markets and finally the respect and dignity which they deserve in the society. Accordingly, this report centers around a new strategy and policy reforms aiming at accelerating agricultural growth, achieving SDGs, and doubling farmers’ income while perusing a ‘Farmer FIRST’ approach.
This report also centers around transforming Indian agriculture and the food system towards a more productive, secure (resilient) and sustainable source of economic growth, improved livelihood for those engaged in the sector and a true catalyst for creation of jobs downstream in the production and post-production scenario. To achieve this noble transformation, a bold vision, accompanied by equally bolder policies and resolute actions are suggested, because the needed boldness is required to get to achieve a new plank, which we seemed to have slipped since India became food secure. Since then, agriculture has prodded along sluggishly being a reflection of complacency despite pockets of brilliance and available technological innovations needing policy support for scaling. Bringing new
innovations to scale and to accelerate agricultural growth above 4 per cent, as envisioned in National Agricultural Policy (2000), would require increased investments with priorities and commitments as a pre-requisite for implementing suggested reforms and new programs in this report. The proposed recommendations are not just a continuation of the business as usual approach of providing technical solutions and essentially tinkering at the margin but are key for taking India to newer heights through over all accelerated growth and sustainable development in agriculture.
The new strategy suggested in the report to address farmers’ diverse needs includes: doubling farmers’ income through increased production, diversification in farming systems that are eco-regionally most sustainable, input cost reduction by scaling technical innovations (be scientist or farmer-led), availability of credit at low interest rate, value addition and better income through direct linkages to markets. The strategy centres around: harnessing scientific, technical and institutional innovations, besides needed policy reforms and both national and global partnerships.
The report highlights new opportunities for harnessing science for new gains through the use of: precision agriculture, biotechnology, sensor technology, bioinformatics, climate-smart agriculture, robotics, drones, big data management, artificial intelligence, etc. The committee firmly believes that there exists considerable scope for scaling out promising technologies for extending the gains such as: growing different crops in newer/non-traditional areas, exploitation of hybrid technology, use of biotechnology, especially GM crops, conservation agriculture, scientific land use and ecoregional planning, farm mechanization for precision farming, reversing soil degradation, improving soil health, especially through the restoration of soil organic carbon, doubling water use efficiency, improved nutrient use, generation of bioenergy and biofuel production, ICT for knowledge empowerment, etc.
The report covers major recommendations relating to key production sectors of agriculture, namely, natural resource management, crops, horticulture, livestock, fisheries and some cross-cutting areas such as: agro-ecological based land use planning, role of youth and women, private sector participation, institutional mechanisms and reforms, knowledge dissemination and capacity building along with action plan for policy reforms and some creative innovations that have great potential for outscaling to accelerate agricultural growth with desired impact on farmers’ income.
Institutional reforms are important to sustain the gains in agriculture through scaling scientific innovations. Some key institutional reforms recommended include: review of existing agricultural policies and forming a new one on agriculture and farmers’ welfare to meet the emerging challenges; needed reorientation of on-going missions/national programs, including urgency for initiating some new missions; clearance of some key pending Acts/Bills by the Parliament; strengthening of ICAR/SAUs/KVKs/PRIs with urgency for doubling current public funding; establishment of a new National Agricultural Development and Farmers’ Welfare Council (NAD&FWC) under the chairmanship of Prime Minister, extremely essential for decision making and to ensure effective coordination and convergence so critical, since agriculture is a State subject; establishing Farmers’ Welfare Commissions both at the Centre and State level, as an institutional mechanism for providing a neutral platform; an
Report on Policies and Action Plan for a Secure and Sustainable Agriculture xxiii
Independent Strategic Planning, Monitoring, and Evaluation Unit to review and assess the impact of all
central agriculture related schemes; grassroot knowledge empowerment through both public and paid
extension systems; expanding the mandate of KVKs as ‘Knowledge-Skill-Innovation Centres’ and to
facilitate the establishment of Agri-Clinics; support for creating more Farmer Producer Organizations;
building trusted partnership with the private sector, and finally the empowerment and motivation of
women and youth to remain in agriculture and be the important game changers.
The report also highlights an urgent need for policy reforms to increase capital investment in
agriculture (both public and private), especially in the eastern, North-eastern, dryland and coastal
regions that are capable of more sustainable Green Revolutions in future, increase in credit access
to the farmers and young entrepreneurs at low interest rate (4%) and creation of more financial
institutions such as Kisan Banks, increasing investments in rural (roads, electricity) and marketing
infrastructure, including pledged warehouses, production and availability of quality seeds and
planting materials, availability of safe and effective chemicals, farm machinery on custom hire basis,
food processing facilities, etc. which are so critical for increasing social progress index (SPI), being
a major determinant, for achieving the SDGs. Also, there is a need to rationalize input subsidies
and transfer them henceforth to farmers through direct benefit transfer (DBT) mechanism such as:
converting subsidies on fertilizers as incentives for use as per need assessed through soil health cards,
power and irrigation subsidy through adoption of conservation agriculture as well as micro-irrigation
practices, more land cover under trees (e.g. har med par ped) through adoption of agroforestry policy
etc. Accordingly, it is recommended to convert subsidies as incentives for both farming efficiency
and environmental services @ Rs 10,000 per acre per annum up to a maximum of 10 acres (4 ha) per
farming family. Strengthening of price stabilization fund is also suggested with enhanced allocations
and the creation of a credit risk management fund is suggested on the model of plantation crops.
Insurance of horticultural crops, livestock and fishery needs to be given equal importance under
Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY), linked to operational efficiency for its implementation
through accurate weather forecasting, mapping of losses using satellite imagery, and the timely
settlement of claims, etc.
For increased income of farmers, and for attracting youth in agriculture, emphasis is clearly needed now on secondary and specialty agriculture, supported well by value chain for efficient postharvest handling, rural based primary processing and marketing. All these are badly in need of policy support and technical backstopping. In this context, the minimum support price (MSP) be fixed at 1.5 times of cost C2 and the procurement in future be extended to all commodities, with decentralized procurements to be made by the States. Also, there is need to enhance markets intensity in rural areas and ensure market linkages through e-NAM requiring uniform adoption of Agriculture Produce and Livestock Marketing (APLM) Act and Contract Farming Act by various States. Further, the mandi tax has also to be rationalized around 5-7 per cent, whereas some even charge more than twice the amount. The Essential Commodities Act (ECA) and Agricultural Produce Marketing Committee (APMC) Act also need to be reviewed in regard to their relevance especially when intention through e-NAM is to create a unified national market to benefit both the producers and consumers. The concerns of seed industry with regard to implementation and harmonization of Biological Diversity Act and Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers Rights Act (PPV&FRA), unresolved issues relating to access and benefit sharing (ABS) for use of genetic resources, besides intellectual property (IP) protection on innovation such as genetic modification (GM), genome editing, etc., pricing policy
on seeds and long awaited revision of Seed Act need to be addressed on priority. The fertilizer and pesticides industries also have serious concerns relating to regulations and their effective implementation requiring immediate Government intervention to create an enabling environment to ensure accelerated growth of agriculture. It is proposed that corporate social responsibility (CSR) be now linked to efficient technology dissemination through active involvement of youth (including women) as technology/extension agents, input and/or service providers and for the establishment of Agri-Clinics involving young enterpreneurs. Considering enormous potential for agricultural
xxiv Report on Policies and Action Plan for a Secure and Sustainable Agriculture exports, it is suggested to revisit our export-import (EXIM) policy and make it long-term foresight oriented to harness the benefits of globalization. For this, Agricultural and Processed Food Products
Export Development Authority (APEDA) needs to be strengthened to take-up additional functions of international demand assessment, establishing linkages with potential importing countries and to maintain international food safety and quarantine standards. It should also create a national system of certification of organic foods for both domestic and international markets.
Further, it has been observed that the Seed Bill, Pesticide Management Bill, Biotechnology Regulatory Authority of India (BRAI) Bill, and other important Bills/Acts relating to agriculture and rural development are pending for enactment by the Parliament for long and hence all these be got expedited without further delay. A National Policy on Biotechnology, embracing GM and genome editing, National Livestock Breeding Policy (including the enactment of a new Act to protect all indigenous livestock breeds), and the National Land Utilization Policy, which is both owner and tenant friendly, as proposed in the Model Land Leasing Act, should be considered for quick decision and
implementation by all the States concerned. In this context, the fragmentation of land holdings below one ha in irrigated and 2 ha in the rainfed areas, being uneconomical, be legally not permitted. Also, the digitization of agricultural land ownership records be now made a priority requirement by all States.
Finally, it is committee’s resolve that the growth of agriculture sector can be accelerated to help achieve SDGs much faster provided the recommendations given in the report are implemented through both a missionary zeal and as a package by the Government.